Buying vacant land in Melbourne, or for that reason, any part of Australia is governed by various legal covenants so that you get a marketable title when you complete the transaction. Prudent buyers always identify a competent lawyer or a law firm to take them through the legal maze because of the knowledge and experience they can bring to the table.
To help you gain an initial understanding of the legal framework, we have collated the following guidelines.
All promises and commitments
There will be several factors discussed between the seller and buyer. However, you should ensure that all these commitments and promises are reduced into writing and form part of an agreement for sale.
Vacant land in urban areas
Like other metropolitan areas, Melbourne has its share of high-density regions that are attractive if you consider service areas and entertainment. But, such activities also bring along the higher level of noise, odours and increased the traffic of automobiles as well as people. For a balanced understanding of what you can expect, you should familiarize yourself with the terrain, before buying vacant land.
Physical inspection and measurements
You should physically inspect the property you intend buying and get precise measurement done, preferably in your presence. If you are unable to do this, then you should appoint an authorized representative to do this for you.
When the vacant land you wish to acquire is within a subdivision having a common property like grounds, driveways etc It can be governed by an owners corporation. In such instances, you may need to pay a fee for use of common facilities and comply with the rules framed by the corporation. At times, some of these rules may be restrictive such as pet ownership. It would be a great idea to take your lawyer into confidence on all these aspects.
If the vacant landfalls with growth areas, check whether the vacant land also attracts a contribution towards infrastructure in growth areas. In Melbourne, certain areas are delineated as strategic assessment areas and these areas have special requirements like biodiversity conservations.
Certain vacant land can be classified as area falling under flooding/fire risk. You should investigate and understand the implication of such classification particularly with regard to building, insurance premium and land management.
Though vacant land in the Melbourne metropolitan area may not come under rural properties, it helps to keep you informed of the covenants that rural properties attract in Australia. In the case of rural properties, you should satisfy yourself that land use surrounding the chosen property is compatible with your expectations and lifestyle. Significant noise and sound may be generated from farming activities and that could potentially be something you do not expect from a rural lifestyle. You should also comprehend the rules governing removal of native vegetation including the legal process for obtaining a clearance if this is applicable. Similarly, you should also know about rules concerning obligations cast on you in managing pests, weeds and animals. For all other aspects concerning rural properties please visit the official government website.
Liaise closely with the local councils to ensure that the vacant land you intend buying complies with all legal provisions. You can gain a significant amount of information from the local councils.
Town planning and zoning regulations
All lands in Australia come under a planning scheme and local councils run the scheme. You must, therefore, understand the zoning regulations impacting the property and how your plans to build a home or other facilities may be affected.
You should verify any encumbrance on the property such as collateral security for loans, other charges etc. Understand that any charge or encumbrance can limit your title to the property.
Understand specific laws governing the construction of buildings as well as retaining walls so that your building construction gets approval from the concerned authorities. You can contact local councils for necessary guidance and information.
The section 32 statement and sale contract carry important information on the property and therefore you should ask to see these and comprehend the contents thoroughly. Your lawyer or conveyancer can be of great help in understanding the contract terms and make sure that the transaction is correctly completed.
If you are a foreign buyer, you will need to obtain clearance from the FIRB and your lawyer can guide you in this regard.
The onus of ensuring that the transaction complies with the GST regulations is upon the buyer. Failing to do this can attract serious problems later.
There are many federal regulations and laws that govern property transactions and Melbourne is no exception. The onus of understanding these provisions comprehensively is always on the buyer. The best way to avoid potential hassles is to engage a competent lawyer before taking the first step forward.